The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

A penitential celebration of love

A perspective on Valentine’s Day & Ash Wednesday in the wake of #MeToo

Did the Jesuit mathematicians who created our calendar 435 years ago know that an overlap of Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday would be more than appropriate in 2018? You wonder, given that a penitential celebration of love may be necessary in the current moment.

Ash Wednesday is arguably the most effective Christian feast of the year, as droves of people who never darken the door of a church regularly seem to fill the pews to have a priest or minister smear ashes on their forehead and tell them they are fragile human beings with the ominous phrase “thou art dust and to dust thou shall return.” This phrase is often joined with “repent and believe in the good news.” This reminder of mortality is a seemingly effective wake up call to make amends for past sins and be proactive in living lives of goodness. A call to penance, reform and integrity is the theme of the day as it kicks off the season of Lent.

This Valentine’s Day we may need the same penitential call to reform if we are really serious about celebrating true love. The constant flow of stories about harassment and abuse has shed light on the sins of some men, causing many of us men to informally declare a defensive “#notme.” However, I suspect that many, if not most, of us men are guilty of creating the culture of degradation that empowers the bad behavior of the offenders.

Valentine’s Day 2018 may be the best day to wear the ashes of humility, admit any harm we may have caused and learn a bit more about asking for forgiveness. Because it is going to take public acts of real men declaring in some way “#notmetoo” – not here, not now will I join you in the crude joke or degrading comment. Reversing the pervasive culture of sexism requires a bit of honest penance for past behavior and acts of brave reform to let this Valentine’s Day be about the integrity required for loving relationships.

So maybe those Jesuit mathematicians calculated just right when they set up a calendar over four centuries ago. They may have known it would take a few centuries for us to begin to get it right. This Ash Wednesday may add up to a new sort of Valentine’s Day going forward.

Daniel Joyce is a Jesuit administrator at Saint Joseph’s University.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Hawk News

Your donation will support the student journalists of St. Joseph's University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Hawk News

Comments (0)

All The Hawk News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *